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The Office of the Vice President for Research has announced that Professor Mohammed N. Islam is the first recipient of the Distinguished University Innovator Award. The prestigious honor recognizes the noteworthy demonstration of a transformational innovation, the movement of an innovation to market-readiness or the creation of the new means for moving innovations from the University into the private sector.
Islam, a faculty member in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), was cited for his development of Raman fiber optic amplifiers for long-haul telecommunications and subsequent demonstration of this technology's competitiveness compared to the existing norm for the industry.
"Professor Islam has made great strides in developing breakthrough technology and then creating and fostering the formation of new companies to bring this technology to the market," says Stephen Forrest, vice president for research. "I'm also impressed by his success in bringing the lessons he learned in the business/tech transfer world into his teaching. His efforts represent the kind of connections between research, innovation and technology transfer that I wish to recognize and promote with this award."
When Islam introduced his technology, skeptics said it would not be reliable, yet he has proven them wrong in the lab and through the success of his startup company, Xtera Communications, which has survived and grown in the fiercely competitive telecom equipment market, his nominators say.
Islam also has developed courses on patents for engineers and on entrepreneurial fundamentals. Furthermore, he contributes to the Business School course "Financing Research Commercialization."
In nominating Islam, EECS Professor Fred Terry stated, "I believe [Islam] to be one of this University's shining lights in the general realm of technological innovation."
Islam will receive his award March 21, at which time he will also give a public address on his work. The lecture will begin at 4 p.m. in Rackham Amphitheatre. A reception will follow.